We get it: You are pissed that you didn't get to grinch your way through the holidays with Lewis Black. Unfortunately, the big-Black-grump got a batch of the sniffles while doing a show for the troops overseas and asked Leno to fill in for him. Thus, please defer your anger towards Lewis for asking Leno from now on.
Still the switch seemed quite odd. The two comedians have completely different styles and approaches to humor. It's like ordering a straight shot of tequila and getting a wine cooler instead. But hey, it's still alcohol right? It'll still get you drunk. And well, Leno is still comedy. Dare we say that the show was actually pretty funny? Gasp!
Perhaps the most thoroughly amusing aspect of the night was watching those who didn't get the Leno-swap memo. There is nothing like observing a bunch of grumps grump about not being able to watch their master grump. They threw their hands in the air, spoke profanities, and got their refunds with huffs and puffs.
Other guests didn't mind so much or actually came because of the new headliner. The majority of the crowd was post-menopausal, though scatterings of youth were spotted at the bar prior to the show. Leno was not able to fill the place to capacity, but given the drastic switch and the short notice, we didn't expect him to either.
Leno gave the crowd a solid one-hour and 20-minute show. No opening act or video fluff in between. His only mention of NBC or the Tonight Show was a reference his mother visiting Los Angeles for a tapping. No fire-crouch mentions either (sorry Conan lovers, you've become old news.)
The stand-up was also as clean as expected, with Jay using plenty of innuendos to keep things PG-13. Jay's dirtiest moment was his reference to Goldfinger character, Pussy Galore during a bit about childhood. Then a modern-day, politically correct version of the Shaft theme actually got the crowd to roar with laughter and applause. If you don't recall the lyrics, they begin with "Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine with all the chicks? Shaft! Ya, damn right." It was quite the moment.
All in all, Jay took shots at President Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Paris Hilton, Charlie Sheen, Tim Hardaway, Hugh Hefner, Sally Field commercials, The Maury Show, America's obesity, being Italian, Japanese portable car toilets, Los Angeles, and of course, his age. Jay's stand-up definitely out does his usual late night bits. There's more energy, better content, and overall animation. Most importantly, it lacked denim ensembles and NBC's standards. Now that is priceless.